News / Europe

Turkey to France: Block Genocide Bill, or Else

Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of parliament, Ankara, Oct. 11, 2011.
Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of parliament, Ankara, Oct. 11, 2011.
Dorian Jones

Ankara is continuing to ratchet up tensions with Paris over a proposed French law to criminalize denial of claims that Turkey's mass killings of Armenians before and during World War I constitute genocide.

Ankara, which rejects the charge of genocide and argues the widespread killings of its Armenian minority occurred during civil strife in which many Turks died as well, dispatched a high-level delegation of parliamentarians in a last-minute bid to lobby against the proposed law.

Historians say up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, and several countries recognize the killings as genocide. Under the proposed French legislation, denying the genocide would be punishable by up to one year in prison along with a $58,000 fine.

On Saturday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched a stinging attack on France, saying that no historian or politician can see genocide in Turkish history, and that those who do want to see genocide should turn around and look at their own "dirty and bloody history."

Relations between Turkey and France are already tense in connection with French President Nicolas Sarkozy's strong opposition to Ankara's bid to join the European Union. Erdogan last week reportedly sent a letter to Sarkozy warning of dire consequences if the legislation passes.

Diplomatic correspondent Semih Idiz of the Turkish newspaper Milliyet warns such threats should be taken seriously.

"I think it is serious, I think that the government will make a big issue out of this - [it] is not one that they can afford to let go by," he says. "In terms of public opinion, this is one of [the] most [touchy] of issues for Turks, and you cannot just take it lightly."

Opposition to the genocide claim is one of the few issues that unite Turkey's normally polarized main political parties.

The main opposition People's Republican Party is due to send its own deputies to Paris to lobby against the controversial legislation, and the leader of the National Action party, Devlet Bahceli, strongly backs Erdogan's tough stance against Paris.

With such cross-party support, the potential repercussions to French-Turkish relations are expected to be severe. Turkish officials have said their ambassador to France, Tahsin Burcuoglu, will be recalled if the French parliament passes the legislation.

International relations expert Soli Ozel of Kadir Has University warns that will be just the beginning.

"[They could] ban the French companies from all economic bidding," he says. "For the future, [they will] not give the French companies the light of day. And wherever they can block France, they will try to so."

Last week, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu summoned representatives of leading French companies to explain what is at stake for them. With Turkish exchange accounting for 2.5 percent of France's annual international trade, observers say such threats will have a limited effect. But the repercussions of a deepening dispute threaten to extend beyond France to the whole European Union.

"I think there is this negative potential, based on good information the Turkish foreign minister met with EU ambassadors and lashed out at them over this issue," says Idiz.

Foreign Minister Davutoglu has warned the European Union it has a responsibility to protect freedom of speech.

The ongoing crisis in Syria may also be affected. Despite strained relations, Paris and Ankara have found common ground in their opposition to Damascus' ongoing crackdown on dissent.

But the head of the Turkish Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, Volkan Bozkir, warned in Paris that bilateral cooperation in the region would be significantly harmed if the legislation was passed.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More